Al Osteen, a beloved member of the bluegrass community in upstate South Carolina, died yesterday (12/31) following a battle with cancer. He had been a noted professional performer since the late 1960s, but his lasting mark is the large number of young musicians whose lives he touched as a teacher.
In addition to offering private banjo instruction, Osteen had been affiliated for some time with Young Appalachian Musicians (YAM) who provide after school music instruction for students in grades 3-8, as well as summer music camps in Pickens, SC. YAM raises money to obtain instruments and hire local musicians to teach the art of traditional string music to young folks who might never be exposed to it otherwise.
Among Al’s former private students are two-time National Banjo Champ Charles Wood and reigning IBMA Banjo Player of the Year and Grascals banjo picker Kristin Scott Benson.
We had chronicled the efforts of his many friends to help raise funds to defray the costs associated with his chemotherapy previously on Bluegrass Today.
According to an obituary published by the Petty Funeral Home in Landrum, SC, Osteen’s memorial service will be held this Sunday (1/2).
His family has requested that any remembrances be made as donations to YAM.
Young Appalachian Musicians
c/o Betty McDaniel
792 Holly Springs School Rd.
Pickens, SC 29671
Rest in Peace, Al Osteen.